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Friday, October 30, 2020

Review: Sinister

Director: Scott Derrickson

Screenplay: Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill

Year: 2012

Eight years after its release, I can still clearly remember how I felt after watching "Sinister". I had the chance to watch this movie in the theater when it was released, and I can remember the ride back home as one of the tensest I have felt. I couldn't avoid feeling like I was being watched, and even today, I can't say for sure that it wasn't the case. The truth is that when I get asked about what are the horror movies that have frightened me the most, "Sinister" is always on that list.

A famous crime novel writer moves to a house in a small town where a family died under strange circumstances, and only one child seems to have survived but went missing. The writer hasn't told his family that the crime he is investigating happened in the same house where they are now living. His research leads him to associate similar cases and discover their cause; something much sinister than what he could have imagined. 

“Sinister” is the sort of movie that manages to create its level of discomfort and terror by establishing and developing the atmosphere. Once the family moves to the house, Ellison begins researching for his book and discovers inside the house a box with old family tapes, which had recorded the family's deaths. The deaths are frightening, and the super 8 films’ granular quality gives it a dirty and scary aesthetic. All the videos start with the victim family being filmed without them being aware as they carry some family activity and later shift towards the grizzly murders.

For the duration of the movie, we follow Ellison, brilliantly interpreted by Ethan Hawke (“The Purge”; “Daybreakers”), while he uncovers details of the sinister deaths. With just a few minutes on screen, Hawke manages to get through an egocentric personality that ends up being important for the decisions the writer takes and the plot development. The rest of the cast also does a great job, and they share good chemistry with the protagonist according to their characters and relationships.

If there is something that exceeds the atmosphere as the movie’s best attribute, it is the plot. The screenwriters Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and C. Robert Cargill (“Doctor Strange”), the former who also directs, offers a story that is catching from the start and that continues to be that way until the horrifying ending. Maybe the only thing that takes away from the movie is Bughuul’s look, who, more than being scary, looks like a member of Slipknot, but luckily he is not shown much. 

“Sinister” is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had with a horror movie. Its compelling plot forces you to go deep in it and be wrapped by its dense and imposing atmosphere at every ticking second. On top of that, the horrifying visuals in the family's deaths videos are enough to traumatize even the strongest viewers.

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